February Update from the President

Hello everyone!

With the last third of my term quickly shrinking, it's been both motivating and astonishing to reflect on OUSA's successes this year. Over the last eight months there has been a lot to be excited about: we've passed post-secondary policy and introduced new OUSA events, have been a leading figure in the province's discussions on sexual assault and violence, and our recommendations during the funding formula consultation were largely adopted in the published report. Our sentiments on work-integrated learning have been acknowledged by business and the civil service alike, and we've continued collecting primary and secondary data through our research reports and the Ontario Post-Secondary Student Survey. The past month however, has largely focused on two things: tuition and financial aid.

When discussing OUSA's annual priorities during the summer with our Steering Committee, it was clear that affordability would take a leading role. We understood the timeliness of this advocacy priority with the current tuition framework soon expiring, and recognized the increasing provincial interest in OUSA's recommendations regarding tax credit reallocation. So, we opted to launch a campaign around these topics, supplemented with both a pre-budget submission and our previous advocacy during OUSA's LobbyCon. This materialized into what I firmly believe has been OUSA's most successful advocacy push related to post-secondary costs in years.

For those of you who aren't aware, OUSA's #TimeOutON campaign advocated for a fully funded tuition freeze in the next tuition framework. OUSA recommended redistributing some of the government's 365 million in tax credits to fund the freeze, to ensure that universities still have the resources to remain competitive and provide a quality education. To support the campaign, OUSA members distributed gloves and laptop stickers, and interacted over social media using the hashtag #TimeOutON. The campaign received coverage by CP24, the Toronto Star, campus newspapers, and numerous local and Toronto news sources, and we received significant support from each of our member campuses. We are encouraged by the success of the campaign, and look forward to how it shapes our discussions with the province as the new framework arrives.

January also marked a time when our Steering Committee and student authors began the preliminary authorship of our new policy papers, and students across the province began applying as delegates to OUSA's upcoming General Assembly. We also look forward to having several student unions in Ontario participate as observers in OUSA's next General Assembly, which will allow our organization to better partner with the great work that other student leaders are doing. To ensure that our campus presence remains high over the year, our Home Office also provided a midyear update, which each of our SC members distributed across their campuses so that students are aware of OUSA's work. We believe this begins some of the initial steps to forming a stronger relationship with the students on our campuses, which form the backbone of OUSA's strength as an advocacy vehicle.

So far, I am proud of the progress that OUSA has made this year. We still have three months left to accomplish so much, but if the last month is any indication, I am confident that we will make a lasting impact well into the future. As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to me or our fantastic Home Office team.


Spencer Nestico-Semianiw
OUSA President